Q and A with Agent Elena Mechlin

Today we feature the fourth in our series of Q and As with the featured agents, editors, and authors of our YA A to Z Conference! To learn more about the conference, click here. To register, click here!

How did you get started in publishing?

In college, I was on the fast track to becoming a high school English teacher. That is until I saw a poster for the Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. I’ve always loved books and couldn’t believe that it had never occurred to me that there were actually jobs at the places where those books come from. I spent a glorious month in Denver, still one of my favorite cities, and never looked back.

What’s the average number of submissions you receive in a month?

Well, we receive between 5 and 20 a day, so if we say 15 a day, over 30 days, that’s 450. Yikes!

If you could give writers one small piece of advice about the world of publishing, what would it be?

Be patient. It takes time to write a great book and it takes time to find a great agent and it takes time to find the perfect editor. And once you’ve got all those things lined up, it takes time to publish that great book!

Who was your first client?

I’ve been supremely lucky to be working directly with the incredible list of clients that Holly McGhee has amassed over the years, but in terms of my very own client, I haven’t signed anybody yet, but getting close with a couple of prospects!

What was the first project you sold?

My first solo negotiation was a board book series to be illustrated by our lovely Pascal Lemaitre.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the creative process and seeing what our brilliant clients and querying authors will come up with next! You never know what sort of gems are going to be in your inbox when you come in in the morning.

What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?

I hate to see people trying to fit themselves into a trend or comparing their writing to somebody else’s. We want to represent people who have a unique voice and viewpoint! Be you!

What is a little known fact about yourself?

Hm. I’m half Costa Rican and I’m training for a half marathon! Do those two halves make a whole?

What book are you reading right now?

I try very hard to read at least one already-published, non-Pippin book a month. Right now, I’m reading Once a Runner, by John L. Parker, Jr. My dad gave it to me for Christmas as inspiration for my new role as a long distance runner.

If you could have a beer or coffee with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?

I think I’d love to talk “boys” with Jane Austen. How fun would that be?

Beer or coffee?

Beers plural.

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